Interview with John Hickenlooper. TRANSCRIPT: 5/29/19, The Rachel Maddow Show.
GEORGE WILL, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: So, it`s very hard to – I mean, you say
he is overturning norms.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Right.
All right. George Will, just so you know, the Cubs are up 2-0 in the
third, the Internet tells me. Thought you would want to know it. Fellow
WILL: Life is good.
HAYES: Yes, maybe we can get off this losing run here. Thank you very
That is ALL IN for this evening.
“THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW” starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thank you, my friend.
HAYES: You bet.
MADDOW: Thanks for you at home joining us this hour.
You know, it is one thing to see it in black and white. It is another
thing to hear him say it out loud.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT MUELLER, SPECIAL COUNSEL ON RUSSIA INVESTIGATION: If we had had
confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have
said so. We did not, however, make a determination as to whether the
president did commit a crime. Under long-standing department policy, a
president cannot be charged with a federal crime while he is in office. A
special counsel`s office is part of the Department of Justice, and by
regulation, it was bound by that department policy. Charging the president
with a crime was therefore not an option we could consider.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Charging the president with a crime was not an option we were even
allowed to consider. By the way, though, if we had concluded that he
didn`t commit a crime, we would definitely tell you that, and you`ll notice
we`re not telling you that.
It has been two years now since special counsel Robert Mueller was
appointed to investigate Russian interference in the last presidential
election. Two years and 12 days ago is when he was first appointed. Today
was the first day that we have heard from Mueller himself in his own words,
and honestly, the consequence of hearing from him today for the first time
is I think what is now the widely-held expectation that the Democratic-
controlled Congress will have no choice but to open an impeachment inquiry
into President Trump, not because they want to. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
has been blunt and consistent and insistent in making sure she would
frankly rather stick a fork in her eye.
But now we know that what Congress didn`t fully appreciate when they all
initially cheered the appointment of Robert Mueller, when they praised him
personally, when they praised the decision of the Justice Department to
appoint a special counsel to look into this matter, what I think Congress
didn`t fully grasp at the time was that the regulations under which Mueller
was appointed meant that if this investigation turned up serious evidence
of serious misconduct, if it turned up evidence of potentially criminal
behavior by the president, the only and inevitable outcome of that
determination by the special counsel would be that Congress themselves
would have to do something about it.
I am quite sure that nobody in Congress would have been nearly as excited
about Robert Mueller taking on this job and about a special counsel being
appointed at all had they realized from the outset that that`s what would
happen at the end of Mueller`s investigation if he found the most serious
and seriously negative thing in his investigation, it would go to Congress
for them to handle. But now we know from the horse`s mouth as of today,
finally, more than two years into this thing that according to Justice
Department policies, any evidence of a president`s criminal behavior that`s
turned up by a special counsel, any evidence of that is to be given to
Congress to deal with.
That`s what you do with that information, full stop. It doesn`t go to
anybody else. Congress, it is on you guys.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MUELLER: The matters we investigated were of paramount importance. It was
critical for us to obtain full and accurate information from every person
we questioned. When the subject of an investigation obstructs that
investigation or lies to investigators, it strikes at the core of their
government`s effort to find the truth and hold wrongdoers accountable.
The order appointing me special counsel authorized us to investigate
actions that could obstruct the investigation. We conducted that
investigation, and we kept the office of the acting attorney general
apprised of the progress of our work.
Under long-standing department policy, a president cannot be charged with a
federal crime while he is in office. The department`s written opinion
explaining the policy makes several important points. The opinion
explicitly permits the investigation of a sitting president because it is
important to preserve evidence while memories are fresh and documents
available. Second, the opinion says that the Constitution requires a
process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting
president of wrongdoing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So the Justice Department opinion that says you can`t charge a
president says, first, that a special counsel should nevertheless collect
and preserve evidence of a president`s potential criminal behavior. Why is
that? Why collect and preserve that evidence if you can`t charge that
president as a result of that evidence?
Well, among other things, if in fact there turns out to be evidence that
shows a president may have committed crimes – well, you are going to need
that evidence to indict the president for those crimes one way or the
other. To bring charges. It`s just that indictment cannot come from the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MUELLER: The Constitution requires a process other than the criminal
justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The determination of a president`s criminal culpability is a
process that does not and cannot take place within the criminal justice
system. That is a determination to be made in Congress.
And, you know, to be clear and to stomp on a point that I think will make
the first paragraph of William Barr`s obituary some day, what Robert
Mueller made clear today is the determination as to whether or not charge
the president, the decision to formally accuse a sitting president of
wrongdoing, that is not to be made within the whole criminal justice
system, which means it`s not to be made by the special counsel`s office
within the Justice Department. It`s not to be made by the Justice
Department at all, which means presumably, that it is also not to be made
by the top official at the Justice Department, the attorney general.
Nevertheless, Attorney General William Barr took it upon himself to do
that, to assess the president`s potential criminal wrongdoing and to
publicly proclaim no charges, no charges, everything the president looks
fine, everybody the president did looks fine.
So what I`m giving you here, this is not groundbreaking analysis, right, of
Mueller`s statement. Robert Mueller`s public statement today really didn`t
leave much wiggle room for contrary analysis, and that is exactly the point
of him personally making a succinct public statement about his own work and
his own reasoning, so the American people could clearly understand it.
I mean, reading the 458-page Mueller report is awesome. I highly recommend
it. You should do it. But as a person who read the report, I still find
it helpful to have the dude that wrote it up there saying hey, you know,
here`s what it says, and here`s the important bits you want to make sure
you don`t miss out on.
That is finally what we got from Mueller today. That`s a helpful thing for
public understanding, on top of telling people to read the report
themselves. And because it was a helpful thing to hear it from him today,
to have him make that public statement, it is therefore not surprising and
not a bad thing that the well informed press and members of Congress and
presidential candidates and the public have all been sort of greeting his
statement today with some exclamation points, right? With some shock and
surprise, even though, yes, it`s true, this stuff really was in his report.
Yes, Mueller and his team really did find that they could not exonerate the
president of obstruction of justice. They were looking to see if they
could clear him. They could not.
Yes, the obstruction efforts they documented were really serious, and they
did impede the ability of Mueller and his investigators to get to the
bottom of Russian interference in the election and the Trump campaign`s
involvement in it. Yes.
And, yes, Mueller and his team said in their report that the special
counsel`s office didn`t have the option of charging Trump, even if they
wanted to, or of even saying that they believed Trump committed crimes.
They didn`t have that option because of the Justice Department policy that
precludes charges against a sitting president. Yes, that was in the
But when Mueller said it today, nevertheless, it was greeted as huge news.
I mean, Mueller had explained in his report that because of Justice
Department policy, it`s only Congress that can and must – he basically
says in the report and must determine the president`s criminal culpability
for committing obstruction of justice here. That was my favorite part from
the whole written report, right?
That Congress, he says, that Congress may apply obstruction laws to the
president`s corrupt exercise to the powers of office accords with our
constitutional system of checks and balances and the principle that no
person is above the law. Congress has the authority to prohibit a
president`s corrupt use of his authority in order to protect the integrity
of the administration of justice, right?
Mueller is saying, you know, it`s no big deal if you want to apply
obstruction laws to the president, unless you want to uphold our
constitutional system of constitutional balances and no person is above the
law. If you want to do that, you want to apply the obstruction institutes
And, Congress, you know, it`s no big deal whether or not you want to pursue
the president for corruptly using his authority to obstruct justice. It`s
no big deal unless you want to protect the administration of justice in the
United States of America. I mean, it`s already made that case that
Congress can and must act based on this kind of evidence.
And it was stunning to see it there in the report in black and white in the
first place. But honestly, it is something all together different to see
him say it out loud, in person, unfiltered, making a public presentation of
your findings matters. Which makes it all the more remarkable and
significant that instead of just letting Mueller do that from the outset,
we the people have muddled through more than nine weeks of the attorney
general making up porky pies about what Mueller did and didn`t do, and
claiming that Mueller was leading a spy ring and telling Congress that
Mueller should have never been allowed to investigate this stuff in the
first place, and no collusion, no collusion. What are you going to do,
lock me up, Nancy?
I mean, that`s been the past nine weeks. Imagine if Mueller had just been
allowed at the outset to release the introductions that he and his team
wrote, summarizing the two volumes of their report. Imagine if at the
outset, Mueller had just said publicly what he finally was allowed to say
publicly today about his investigation and about his report. Imagine that
had been from the outset how we learned about what Mueller found and what
Mueller did and what the country and specifically the Congress is expected
to do with the evidence that Mueller turned up that he couldn`t use to
bring charges but somebody could.
And so now, the Congress really is in a different place than they were
before 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time this morning. Because Mueller has now for
the first time in more than two years, he has been allowed to speak on his
own terms, and he has made clear in no uncertain terms that the next move
is not going to come from him. It is going to have to come from Congress.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MUELLER: So that was Justice Department policy. Those were the principles
under which we operated, and from them we concluded that we would – would
not reach a determination one way or the other about whether the president
committed a crime. That is the office`s final position. Now I hope and
expect to be the only time I will speak to you in this manner.
Any testimony from this office would not go beyond our report. We chose
those words carefully and the work speaks for itself. And I will close by
reiterating the central allegation of our indictments, that there were
multiple systematic efforts to interfere in our election, and that
allegation deserves the attention of every American.
Thank you. Thank you for being here today.
REPORTER: Sir, if you`re subpoenaed –
MUELLER: No questions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: No questions. I said no questions.
The work speaks for itself. Here it is. We in the special counsel`s
office can`t charge him. Here`s the evidence we found, though. We`d tell
you if he clearly didn`t commit obstruction, and, boy howdy, are we not
saying that. We tried to clear him. Couldn`t.
And by the way, obstruction is a really serious crime, and to the extent
that there was criminal obstruction here, and we lay that out over more
than 100 pages, that was obstruction of a really, really important
investigation into something very, very bad for our whole country that
every American should really care about. And did I mention, that`s it from
I mean, I think that Congress will still get testimony from Robert Mueller
probably by hook or by crook. I`m still interested in the question of his
team, the prosecutors and agents and analysts that worked with him will
A House intelligence chairman already said today: Thank you, sir. We`re
looking forward to your testimony. That`s a good hint that he is still
going to be asked to testify.
But there is a reason that there was unanimity today from presidential
candidates, even from the ones who have been more reticent on this issue in
the past. Today in response to Mueller`s statement, none of them are being
reticent today. There is a reason that all today said impeachment inquiry
must be opened.
There`s a reason that the statement in response to Mueller today from
Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, where he said this, he said given that
special counsel Mueller was unable to pursue criminal charges against the
president, it falls to Congress to respond to the crimes, lies, and other
wrongdoing of the president, and we will do so.
There is a reason that after Jerry Nadler made that statement today, there
was some bewilderment that Nadler then gave a life press statement to
reporters in which he still wouldn`t just say that he is opening an
impeachment inquiry. When he says we will do so, what does he mean? We
will do what?
I mean, Democrats wanted to follow Robert Mueller`s lead on this
investigation as far as they could – understandable, cautious, restrained,
and in many ways admirable. But today that`s over because today we found
out from the horse`s mouth, we found out from Mueller himself exactly how
far Mueller could go.
And so now, upon Mueller`s resignation from the Justice Department, upon
finally hearing from him about his own work, now the – I believe widely
held expectation is that the House will open an impeachment inquiry into
the president. Presented with this evidence and with the clarifying out
loud, unquestionable assertion from Mueller himself that it is now their
job to do something about it, Congress will have to do something about it.
I mean, the question now is I think no longer whether the Democrats will
decide to open an impeachment inquiry. The question now, it seems to me,
just has to be when.
Joining us now is Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon. She is a Democratic of
Pennsylvania. She`s vice chair of the Judiciary Committee.
Representative Scanlon, it`s really good to have you here with us tonight.
Thanks for coming in and being here in person.
REP. MARY GAY SCANLON (D-PA): Thank you.
MADDOW: Let me just get your reaction to what Mueller said today.
SCANLON: Well, what Mueller said today wasn`t a surprise to anyone who
like yourself has read the report. It was great to hear him say it out
loud. It`s been really frustrating to those of us who have read the report
to see its conclusions misrepresented, glossed over, completely
mischaracterized by the White House and by Attorney General Barr. So
having it come straight from the horse`s mouth was valuable.
MADDOW: In terms of his clear assertions today that it is not for the
criminal justice process, it is not for the criminal justice system to
determine whether or not there is criminal culpability on the part of the
president, that has to be something outside the criminal justice system.
Clearly, he doesn`t mean some sort of, you know, game show review. He
doesn`t mean some sort of luck of the draw. He means Congress pursuing
With him clarifying that today – obviously, I mean, I explained the way I
see this, I feel like he`s sort of called the question for the Congress in
terms of whether or not an impeachment inquiry will be opened. I know that
you have called for that recently yourself.
Do you think that this changed today the calculus as to whether or not
Democrats will do it?
SCANLON: I think we`ve seen an escalation of people as they`ve gotten
through the report, as they`ve read it, Republicans and Democrats, they
come to this conclusion themselves. The question is whether the American
people will come to that conclusion, because what we`re seeing is that the
Republican Party and the Senate majority is either not reading the report
or they don`t care what`s in the report because we heard from Senate
leadership over the weekend that if the House is to start impeachment
proceedings, they`re just going to shut it down.
It doesn`t seem to matter to them what evidence is brought forward. But I
think when people do read the report, when they hear from Robert Mueller,
they understand that these are serious crimes against our country, and they
have to be dealt with.
MADDOW: Let me unpack that a little bit, though, because as I understand
it constitutionally, if the House were to open an impeachment inquiry,
decide that the evidence was sufficient to vote on articles of impeachment
and did vote to impeach the president, it would go to the Senate and it
would not be Mitch McConnell`s choice as to whether or not a trial was held
in the Senate on those articles. The chief justice as I understand it
would have to conduct that trial. Certainly, Mitch McConnell and the
Republicans could do everything they wanted to try to undercut it, but they
wouldn`t be running it.
And I wonder if therefore it could still have some additional sort of utile
value in terms of explaining to the American people what happened and why
this is so serious.
SCANLON: Well, I think that`s why so many of us have started calling for
an inquiry, because it`s important that the American people understand
what`s in there. And it`s a really dense document, and you can`t tweet it.
MADDOW: You organized an out loud reading of the report.
SCANLON: Yes, we did. We did. Because we couldn`t get – because the
administration was stonewalling, wasn`t letting us bring in the witnesses
who could say the president told me to lie.
The president told me to make up documentary evidence. The president
called me. His lawyer called me. They said oh, we love you. Please don`t
We haven`t been able to bring those witnesses in yet, but we will. But
it`s important that the American people hear from them, because right now,
we do have this block of the public that hasn`t focused on the report, and
ultimately, we need them to. This is a serious proceeding, and we need to
have the public understand what the consequences are and what is the
conduct we`re talking about.
MADDOW: Congressman Jerry Nadler talking with me here in that seat just
the other night seemed to be basically agnostic on the issue of
impeachment, seeing the value of it, also seeing the arguments against it,
but not crusading one way or the other in public and there has been reports
he has tried to talk Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi into doing it. She
has been very overt and insistent that we ought not to as a country, that
this is not something that would be of value.
What`s the status of those arguments? I mean, how does this get decided?
Ultimately, it`s the chairman`s decision. You`re the vice chair of the
You`re – as a leadership of the committee, it`s your call as to whether or
not this is opened.
SCANLON: I think what he is not agnostic about that we need to expose the
evidence to the public. And we need to have hearings. Whether you call
them impeachment hearings or whether you call them oversight hearings.
MADDOW: But why not call them impeachment hearings?
SCANLON: Well, I think there is concern about how that`s going to be
played by the White House. They played everything else.
MADDOW: They`re going to tell you that you`re trying to impeach the
president, whether or not you are. That`s pretty much baked into the 2020
calculus at this point. I`m sure they have already cooked up the ads that
It`s hard – the political calculation on here seems very nebulous, whereas
the constitutional imperative has never seemed more clear than it does
SCANLON: Well, there is the constitutional imperative. And I think that
is what is drawing more and more members of the House, as I said both
Republican and now Democrat to say we have a duty to protect the
Constitution, and that`s what`s at stake here.
MADDOW: Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon, vice chair of the House Judiciary
Committee, an incredibly important gig right now. Thank you so much for
coming in person.
SCANLON: Thank you. Appreciate.
MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Good for Bob Mueller
yet again doing his duty of making sure that the American public fully
understands what`s going on here. He told us a lot, and I would suggest
that he told us enough to interpret what he said as a referral for
PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes, the message really is
over to you, Congress. If the Justice Department can`t charge a sitting
president with an actual crime, then it goes over to Congress to decide
whether to charge the president with a high crime. This is as close to an
impeachment referral as you could get under the circumstances.
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The only ones who
can hold the president of the United States accountable right now is
Congress. These are impeachable offenses. It is our constitutional
responsibility as members of Congress to bring a judgment of impeachment
against this president.
BETO O`ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think Robert Mueller made it
as clear as day for all of us. He`s telling us if we want to prevent this
from happening again to our democracy, we have to hold those responsible
accountable, and the only method that we can do that is for our
representatives in Congress to begin impeachment proceedings.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That`s just some of the 2020 Democratic candidates today reacting
to Mueller`s statement today, which he announced the conclusion of his
tenure as special counsel and his resignation from the Justice Department.
Roughly summarized, the 2020 Democrats` response was pretty uniform. This
is the biggest impeachment referral you will ever get. I didn`t actually
see any of them departing from that line.
So what happens with that? According to current NBC News tally, people
have been sort of trying to track this through public statements, of the
435 members of the House, there are 46 Democrats and 1 Republican, Michigan
Congressman Justin Amash who have openly called for opening an impeachment
inquiry. Nearly four dozen members of Congress, including the vice chair
of the Judiciary Committee who was just our guest here moments ago.
You know, after the Saturday Night massacre in the fall of 1973 when Nixon
fired his way through the Justice Department to try to get rid of the
special prosecutor who was investigating him for Watergate, after that,
there was a stampede toward impeachment proceedings against Nixon among
Democrats in the House. It almost went without saying that impeachment
proceedings would open.
Similarly, following the release of the Ken Starr report in 1998,
Republican members of the House instantly and uniformly backed impeachment
proceedings against Bill Clinton. Isn`t this current restraint among House
Democrats in the wake of what Mueller has publicly presented, isn`t it a
little unusual just historically speaking?
Joining us now is Michael Beschloss, NBC presidential historian. He`s the
author most recently of “Presidents of War.”
Mr. Beschloss, it`s great to see you. Thank you very much for being here
MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, NBC NEWS PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Thank you. Me too,
MADDOW: So, is this restraint that we`re seeing from the Democratic
leadership in the House, do you think it is unusual given the historical
BESCHLOSS: Yes, I do. I think it really defies history. Just as you said
in the case of Richard Nixon after the Saturday Night Massacre, a lot of
members of the house wanted impeachment, and also, Leon Jaworski, the
special prosecutor, sent the secret report over to the House that was
called the Watergate road map – you and have I talked about that before –
1st of March, 1974 with supporting evidence, and that allowed the House to
essentially good ahead. And that was considered to be so hot it wasn`t
released until about seven months ago.
And then in the case of the Starr report, that was released to the public
in September of 1998, and Starr sent that immediately to the house, along
with 18 boxes of evidence. And once again, the members of the House which
was Republican at this point said let`s impeach, and they began the
There was not this feeling that we have to hold back because maybe we`ll
look too political.
MADDOW: Mueller indicated clearly today that his preference is not to have
to say another word about the investigation, not to have to testify. Is
there any help from history on that point? Is there precedent in terms of
special counsels or other high profile public investigators like this
having to testify or electing to testify after making some form of their
findings public? Do you think that Mueller be forced to testify?
BESCHLOSS: I think he will be. I think he will not get his wish, if it
really is his wish. He may feel if he has to testify, it is better for him
to do that after having today made a point that he is doing it extremely
reluctantly, and maybe more in sorrow than in anger.
But it would be crazy if we were not called to testify. And I don`t know
about you, Rachel, but Robert Mueller does not look to me like the kind of
person who is going to defy a congressional subpoena that is to testify
beyond what he`s just said in that report.
Kenneth Starr testified before the House in the impeachment investigation
against Bill Clinton November of 1998. That`s a precedent.
MADDOW: Michael, I also wanted to ask you about your reaction as a
historian to the arguments that Democrats are making. You often hear them
making these arguments sort of by proxy. Like Mary Gay Scanlon who is just
here, vice chair of the Judiciary Committee, she thinks they should open an
inquiry. She has been very articulate about it.
When I asked her here, “Well, why isn`t that happening,” she is sort of
arguing by proxy, saying what other people are saying is that Democrats
worry about the political consequences of that. And the way that usually
gets shorthanded when people draw a historical analogy is to the Clinton
situation, that when Clinton was impeached in the House in 1998, it
obviously failed in the Senate, and politically it was seen as something
that boomeranged on the Republicans, ending Newt Gingrich`s career among
MADDOW: What do you make of that argument, whether it`s implicit or
explicit? Do you think there are appropriate historical parallels to draw
between this situation and that one?
BESCHLOSS: Not much. I`ve never been impressed by the Clinton situation
as a precedent for this, showing us what might happen. Clinton was in the
high 60s in approval, very much different from Donald Trump. The offenses
he was accused of were in retrospect a lot more modest than the possible
crimes that we`re reading about in the Mueller report.
So, if you`re looking at the Clinton case and saying, does this show us
that if the Democrats begin a House impeachment investigation, they have to
worry about losing the election next year, I think that`s a really false
And the other thing, I think you said it a little earlier in the program,
you know, all very nice, the more important thing, those members of the
House, they all took an oath to protect and defend the Constitution. And
if they do not do anything about these possible crimes that Robert Mueller
has described very vividly in this report, they`re essentially saying we`re
not going to – we don`t care about the rule of law. And obstructing
justice, if that`s what Donald Trump has done, that will become the new
normal. And later presidents will feel very free to do it too because
they`ll just say the House will not do it if they think it will get them
into political trouble.
What should always prevail is a feeling by members of the House that
they`re going to protect the Constitution. And if they do not do that,
we`re going to be in a lawless society, and we will lose our democracy.
MADDOW: Michael Beschloss, NBC presidential historian, thank you for that
very sobering perspective, sir. It`s always great to have you here.
BESCHLOSS: Thank you, Rachel. Thank you so much.
MADDOW: All right. Lots more to get to tonight. In fact, our next 2020
candidate interview is just ahead tonight, somebody who we have not had
before on this show before, and boy, is he here on a good night. That`s
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: This week, we are looking at the prospect that for the first time
since Roe versus Wade, an American state will have zero legal access to
abortion. Zero legal abortion providers.
Missouri`s Republican-controlled government has made it their business to
try to put out of business every clinic that provides abortion in that
whole state, and they`ve done great at it. Over the past 10 years, they`ve
winnowed it down from at least five clinics providing abortions in the
state to now just one last clinic for the entire population of Missouri.
And as of last night, that clinic says it`s been informed by the state`s
government that the state is going to refuse to renew their license to
operate immediately this week, which means by the day after tomorrow, the
state of Missouri may become the first state in the country to go dark in
terms of abortion rights since Roe v. Wade supposedly enshrined that right
into law across the land.
Now, there was a court hearing on this Missouri issue today that was called
off at the last minute, sort of an unusual development. Nobody seems to
know exactly why the court hearing on this today got called off or now how
this is going to resolve in such a short time frame. But that Missouri
situation, it comes at a time when people in Republican-controlled states
across the country are seeing those states ban abortion. And it comes at a
time when the conservative majority on the Supreme Court seems as eager and
capable as they`ve ever been of striking down the laws that otherwise have
kept clinics open.
So, you know, that`s one way to do it. That`s what Republican-controlled
states are making their priority in 2019, banning abortion in print, and
banning abortion in practice, and seeing how far and how fast they can push
the Supreme Court to make it go away nationwide. That`s one way.
Here is an opposite way. If you were driving down the highway in Colorado
in 2012, you might have seen billboards like these. I want her to know I`m
ready to be a dad. Pregnancy, just talk about it.
They had billboards in Spanish, too. This one says, we are ready for a
relationship, not a baby.
This is part of a state public health campaign in Colorado that year to try
to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies in that state, which of course
down the line naturally reduces the number of abortions in the state as
This public policy program – this public health program in Colorado, it
was built around a specific technology, long-acting, reversible
contraception, specifically, these little guys. This is an IUD. It`s a
long-acting reversible contraception. That`s a method of preventing
pregnancy. It`s more reliable than the pill.
With the IUD, you put the device in and you don`t have to do anything to
keep it going. You don`t have to remember to take some pill at the same
time every day. It just works consistently until years down the road you
may eventually need a new one, or years down the road you decide you may
want to get pregnant so you have yours removed.
But IUDs are expensive. They cost hundreds of dollars. A lot of clinics
can`t afford to give women a free IUD or subsidize one.
So, Colorado saw that as an issue, saw the public health need there, and
decided there was a way to fix that. And starting in 2009, they did this
unique program. Colorado got millions of dollars in private grant money to
buy tens of thousands of IUDs for public health clinics all over that state
so those clinics could then offer IUDs to their patients for free or at
reduced costs, as a way to reduce unwanted pregnancies in the state,
particularly among teenaged girls.
And, boy howdy, did it work. Colorado officials site that IUD program as
the primary factor for the den birth rate dropping by 54 percent. The teen
abortion rate in Colorado dropped by even more, by 64 percent.
What began with a private grant became a line item in the state budget to
keep funding IUDs for Colorado women who wanted them. It was signed into
the budget in 2016 by the state`s governor at the time, Democrat John
People talk about Hickenlooper as an unconventional politician who has a
record of results. Well, that`s one of the conventions that undergirds
that reputation, a phenomenally successful, radically new idea in public
health that absolutely worked.
John Hickenlooper started off as a geologist. Didn`t work out. Decided to
open a brew pub in Denver. Sure, that makes sense.
Turns out that took off. Hickenlooper went on to become the mayor of
Denver. Then he served eight year as the mayor of Colorado, one of the
most popular governors in the country, and one of them with the most
practical track record among all of his peers.
Hickenlooper left the governorship in January. Now, he is running for
president. And, of course, it`s not the centerpiece of his campaign, but
it`s a memorable and unique part of it that he has earned the right to
propose and pursue because he did it already in his state.
As part of his presidential campaign, Governor Hickenlooper is now
proposing a national version of that public health problem – public health
program, that IUD program he helped oversee in Colorado.
Policy paper from his campaign says, quote: In light of the systemic attack
on women`s reproductive rights in states across the country, a federal
program which expands access to affordable, effective contraception is even
more necessary than when Colorado`s program began ten years ago. As
president, Hickenlooper would subsidize the cost of long-acting reversible
contraception for women who can`t afford it and dramatically expand access
for all American women.
Joining us women now for the interview is John Hickenlooper. He is the
former Colorado governor. He is a current candidate in the Democratic
Governor, it`s great to see you. Thanks for being here.
JOHN HICKENLOOPER (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: A lot of people are talking about the size of the Democratic field
and what it takes to stand out, what it takes to get donors` attention.
This is something that we have covered on the show years ago when you were
in the midst of this, in the midst of fighting political battles over this
in Colorado. At the time, you were overtly saying you would never run for
Nobody would think you would do this or something, as a gambit to run for
president. But this is one of the things that you pursued as governor that
I think kind of sets you apart and tells a story about you that I think
both people will remember, but also as a kind of window into your
Do you think that`s fair? And was this harder to get done than it seems
from the outside?
HICKENLOOPER: Well, I think that it`s a fundamental inalienable right that
women should have control of their own bodies. And I think that`s what`s
going on, this constant assault on women`s reproductive rights, you see it
in Alabama, Indiana, even Missouri now, so many states that it`s horrific.
And what we did was we went the other direction, right? We went out and
expanded women`s access to IUDs and Norplants, long acting reversible
contraception, as you described it, and reduced teenaged abortion by 64
percent, teenage pregnancy by 54 percent and in the process saved $70
million out of Colorado tax money.
So, the notion that the people that are so opposed to abortion don`t
recognize that in many ways by eliminating women`s access to reproductive
health, they`re actually going to increase the number of abortions. It`s
MADDOW: Do you feel like – part of the reason this was interesting to me
at the time we initially covered it is because when you were running for
reelection as governor of Colorado, your Republican opponent tried to make
an issue on this a real straight forward cultural war way, that you were a
bad person for pursuing this, and this wasn`t respectful of family values.
He was pretty critical on the issue.
And I feel like you, rather than just directly rebutting him on that, you
sort of threaded this third way. You found another way to say, you know,
look at one of the things we did here is greatly reduce the number of
HICKENLOOPER: You know, I got elected in 2010. When I got elected, I was
the first Denver mayor in 120 years to get elected as governor of Colorado.
And as you know, 2010 was one of the worst years for Democrats in history,
followed closely by 2014 when I won reelection.
And a big part of that success was the result of really going all over the
state and making sure that when we talked about women`s health care, that
we had the clinics and the community health centers and, you know, a
network that really as much as possible, even in those difficult to reach
smaller towns, that we gave women choices, and allowed them to control
their own bodies.
MADDOW: I have a lot to ask you about your time as governor and as your
campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination this year. Stay right
where you are.
Governor John Hickenlooper of Colorado is our guest. We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: Back with us in the studio and for the interview is John
Hickenlooper, former Colorado governor who is now running in the Democratic
Governor, thanks for sticking with us.
HICKENLOOPER: You bet.
MADDOW: It has been reported that you were considered as a potential
running mate for Hillary Clinton in 2016. Is that true?
HICKENLOOPER: Yes. I was down to one of the last three or four that went
through all the vetting.
MADDOW: Yes. Well, do you wish you had been her running mate? What do
you think about how 2016 went? Why do you think Donald Trump was able to
HICKENLOOPER: You know, that`s a whole long story, and I don`t want to
relitigate the past. I certainly admire Secretary Clinton, and she`s been
a great adviser at various points in my career, and even in this
MADDOW: You`ve talked to her about this run?
HICKENLOOPER: Oh, yes. She and Bill, we had a long dinner, and they gave
a lot of advice. And it helped me focus, right?
I mean, the reason I`m running is because I think Donald Trump is fueling a
national crisis of division. And Trump is the symptom, not the disease.
I`m not saying it`s essential to beat Donald Trump, but I`m running
because, you know, this crisis of division is taking the country backwards,
but I don`t think socialism is the answer, right?
I think we`ve – in Colorado, we got business and nonprofits and
Republicans and Democrats to get to near universal health care, to, you
know, get to a point where we really address climate change issues, and we
beat the NRA with some tough new gun laws, right?
As an entrepreneur, I mean, I am an entrepreneur, and a governor. And as
such, I`ve been able to bring people together and get big progressive
things done that people said couldn`t be done.
MADDOW: Why identify socialism as the alternative here? I feel like the
Republicans have tried to define the Democratic Party as a socialist party?
Are you just saying Bernie Sanders would be a bad nominee?
HICKENLOOPER: No, no, I think that many of my colleagues are promoting
large expansions of government. I don`t think we`re going to succeed in
addressing climate change if – within that legislation, we`re guaranteeing
federal jobs for everyone. I don`t think we`re going to get to universal
health care if it includes taking 160 million people and taking them off
their private insurance which many of them don`t want to lose.
I mean, I think we`ve got to get focused if we`re going to address these
issues and be surgical in how we propose solutions. I think, again, my
record of – I think I`m the one person who has actually done what everyone
else is talking about.
And I think at a certain point, if we`re going to win in Ohio and Michigan
and North Carolina, we`re going to need someone with – who is a
progressive but a pragmatic, and maybe a dreamer but also a doer, but
someone who can show that they`ve gotten stuff done.
MADDOW: You know, though, if you were the Democratic presidential nominee
this year, that with all of your pragmatism and all of your record of
working across the aisle, Donald Trump will run against you and the entire
Republican Party will run against you as a socialist.
HICKENLOOPER: Of course.
MADDOWE: And that would be the term – you`ve just used that to disparage
some of your candidates that are running on the same side as you on the
Democratic side. But that will be the moniker they put on everybody no
matter what you do. And so, why play into that by saying socialism is the
HICKENLOOPER: Well, I`m not playing into it. What I`m laying out is real
solutions. I don`t think those solutions include, you know, large
expansions in government.
I think that we – if we`re not careful, if we don`t distance ourselves
from socialism, I think we`re going to allow, we`re going to turn the
election over, a victory over to the worst president in the history of this
MADDOW: You think that`s the key to beating Donald Trump is making sure
you don`t seem socialist?
HICKENLOOPER: I think part of defeating Donald Trump in those swing states
is to make sure we are seen as real pragmatic solutions. That what we`re
suggesting and really promoting are active solutions that bring people
together and get, you know, big challenging solutions to our problems.
MADDOW: Let me – speaking of pragmatism. I opened up talking about that
incredibly innovative and successful public health program that you
championed in Colorado.
MADDOW: And faced down its critics and won support for it and made it
permanent and all the things that did you there. If you are – you`re now
proposing something like that should be done nationally. If you are
elected president, John Hickenlooper, Democratic president, sworn into
office, January 2021, Mitch McConnell still controls the Republican-
controlled Senate. You`re never getting that program through.
Mitch McConnell has – will say just like he did with Barack Obama, I`m not
letting anything through, I don`t even care if any Republicans like the
idea. That said, if you ran for Senate, in Colorado, and you are the
candidate who could most easily take a Republican Senate seat in Colorado,
you would have a more – you would have a better chance of flipping the
Senate to Democratic control. You would propose that legislation, it would
sail through a new Democratic president would sign it into law.
I mean, pragmatically, I wish you were running for the Senate.
HICKENLOOPER: No, I understand, and you`ve obviously been talking to Chuck
MADDOW: No, I never talk to Chuck Schumer.
MADDOW: But I can do this math myself.
HICKENLOOPER: No, of course. And I – you know, I spent my whole life as
an entrepreneur and mayor and governor putting teams of people together and
Republicans and Democrats, people from business, from non-profits, creating
amazing teams that have taken on unimaginable challenges, and we have
gotten the big stuff done.
And that`s what excites me, it`s what motivates me, it`s what I`m really
good at. And I think I`m that person that can bring people together and
really get done the big progressive things that people say can`t get done.
And at a certain point, we`ve got to challenge this fundamental nonsense in
Washington and replace it with some common sense.
MADDOW: John Hickenlooper, who until January was the governor of Colorado,
one of the most popular and accomplished governors in the country – sir,
thank you so much for coming in.
HICKENLOOPER: You bet.
MADDOW: It`s good to have you here. I hope you come back.
HICKENLOOPER: I will.
MADDOW: All right. More news ahead. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Hey, one more thing about this dramatic statement that we got from
Robert Mueller today in Washington, his announcement that he hoped today
would be his last word on his investigation. You should know that as
Mueller was wrapping up those remarks at the Justice Department in D.C.
today, two blocks down Pennsylvania Avenue, the chief federal judge in D.C.
District Court was hearing a sort of rollicking set of arguments in one of
the ongoing cases that Mueller`s investigation has spawned.
Mueller may want to be done but his work is not. For almost a year now, a
young man who worked with Roger Stone, a young man named Andrew Miller, has
been fighting tooth and nail to try to avoid responding to a subpoena from
Mueller that directs him to testify to a grand jury. Now, Miller`s lawyers
have tried everything to keep him from having to testify, everything from
challenging the legality of Mueller`s appointment in the first place, to
saying that this grand jury testimony must be about the Roger Stone case
since Roger Stone has already been charged, then prosecutors can`t possibly
need to have this kid to testify anymore. They`ve tried everything.
Well, today, after months and months of legal wrangling over this and what
must be huge legal bills for this guy, today the chief judge in D.C.
District Court finally just shut the whole thing down and Andrew Miller
will testify now the day after tomorrow or he`s going to jail. We got this
transcript late tonight from this proceeding.
The judge says, quote, to Miller`s lawyer, quote: You understand that if
Mr. Miller does not appear before the grand jury on Friday, he will be in
contempt and there will be a warrant issued for him?
Miller`s lawyer says: Yes, Your Honor.
The judge says: Do you understand that?
Miller`s lawyer says: Yes, your honor.
And then the judge says: Does your client understand that?
And then Andrew Miller who is on speakerphone says on speakerphone: Yes,
And so, the judge says: All right, I will expect I will hear from the
government should Mr. Miller fail to appear on Friday, at what time Mr.
Zelinsky? She asked Aaron Zelinsky, prosecutor from the special counsel`s
office. Zelinsky says: 9:30 a.m., Your Honor.
The judge says; 9:30 a.m., Friday, Mr. Miller`s presence is required.
So again, this has been going on for like a year that they`ve been trying
to get grand jury testimony from this guy Andrew Miller. They have issued
a subpoena, as you know, subpoenas are not an invitation. They are
mandatory. You do not have a choice as to whether or not you can obey a
subpoena, take note.
Miller has been fighting this for a very long time. But as of today, that
case is finally settled and he is finally expected to give his testimony to
Mueller`s grand jury on Friday morning at 9:30.
A side note here is that Mueller`s grand jury is continuing to meet.
Mueller may have just pronounced his work done but a whole bunch of this
stuff is ongoing. Stay tuned.
That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”.
Good evening, Lawrence.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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Copyright 2019 ASC Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are
protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced,
distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the
prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter
or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the